Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 15-18:7; Galatians 1:1-24; Psalm 58:1-11; Proverbs 23:12
God continues to pronounce judgement on the nations through Isaiah in Isaiah 15-16. Here God announces that He will destroy Moab due to their pride (Isaiah 16:6). Compared to Assyria and Babylon, who God judged yesterday, Moab was a small nation. They did not have an empire. But nevertheless, the were proud. Pride does not have to be loud; it can hide in the quietest of places.
I have always been a quiet person, but before coming to Christ I was in love with myself. I thought I had all the answers. I also thought that if I could just be eloquent people would be amazed at my thoughts and ideas. I was full of pride. Empty pride that God had to humble, which He did. And I am very thankful for that.
During this time of judgement the people of Moab would turn to their pagan gods, but that will be useless (Isaiah 16:12). Every day we can see news reports of people facing difficult times and usually we see them turning to the government, or psychics, or something other than God to get them through. This is sad. God is the only one who can rescue us from our troubles. Any other “solution” only creates more trouble.
Its interesting that God gave Moab advance warning about their destruction (Isaiah 16:14). He does this because He doesn’t enjoy dolling out this kind of discipline. He wants people to repent. He wants people to turn to Him because He knows He is the best thing for them. But if they don’t, they will have to face His judgement.
Isaiah 17:1 is the famous prophecy of judgement against Damascus, Syria. Damascus is the world’s longest inhabited city. But someday, according to this passage, it will cease to exist. Considering all that is going there right now, it certainly appears that this prophecy might be coming true before our eyes.
Isaiah 17 also proclaims judgement on Israel because they had forgotten God (Isaiah 17:10). Lying, stealing, raping, are all obvious sins. But so is ignoring God. God created every single person on this earth and we owe it to Him to honor Him and thank Him for our lives. Not doing so is sin and is worthy of judgement. The United States should consider this verse to be a wake-up call. God gave this nation so much wealth, protection, influence, natural resources and beauty. Yet we ignore Him as if He doesn’t exist. As this verse says, God won’t allow us to do that for long. He will make Himself known.
Notice that God brought judgement against Israel by sending other nations to invade her land (Isaiah 17:12-13). Just because the United States is bordered by two large oceans and two friendly and weak neighbors does not mean we are invulnerable. To think so is pride. Protection only comes from God.
In our New Testament reading today we begin the book of Galatians. Galatia was a region in modern-day Turkey in which Paul had started a church. Like most of Paul’s letters, he wrote this one to correct them.
Paul starts out by establishing his credibility and authority much like he did to the Corinthians (Galatians 1:1). When we offer someone constructive criticism its a good idea to let them know why our opinion matters. We need to be willing to be boldly transparent with others. If someone has a drug problem, for example, and we have had a drug problem, it will help to let them know that before we try to help them. If they understand both what motivates us and the source of our knowledge they are more likely to heed our advice.
The Galatians had fallen away from the message Paul had left with them: that Jesus gave up His own life for our sins to offer us eternal life in heaven (Galatians 1:4). The churches in Galatia had been infiltrated by some who espoused a different way of thinking that seemed to make sense but really was a useless lie (Galatians 1:6). People want truth. They search for it. But Satan disguises himself as light – as something that seems good. But only the Good News of Christ has the power to save. All other beliefs that claim to offer eternal life are lies.
It appears that the false gospel the Galatians had embraced was in some way pleasing to human ears. Paul makes no pretense of doing the same thing (Galatians 1:10). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive and insulting to us (Galatians 1:11). It tells us that we are sinners. It tells us that we are powerless to help ourselves. It tells us that a dead man came back to life. No human being would make this up. This could only come from God (Galatians 1:12).
People have always sought justice, even back in David’s time (Psalm 58:1). It has always been hard to find. Very few leaders have been benevolent. They have not sought to help other people but to promote themselves. As human history marches forward, this will only get worse. But someday God will set everything right (Psalm 58:11)
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